Di Venuto and Bailey put Tigers on top
Tasmania 6 for 393 (Di Venuto 129, Bailey 101, Ponting 51, Moss 4-58) trail Victoria 6 for 429 dec by 36 runs
Centuries to Michael Di Venuto and George Bailey overshadowed the brief Shane Warne-Ricky Ponting contest in the Pura Cup match between Victoria and Tasmania at the MCG. Di Venuto's 37th first-class hundred - he made 129 - and the fourth for Bailey (101) put the Tigers within reach of first-innings points, but when Jon Moss took three late wickets Tasmania were 6 for 393 chasing Victoria's 429.
Di Venuto was rock solid for most of the day, taking few risks in his 244-ball innings. He hit 11 fours, pulled a loose Andrew McDonald delivery for six and put Warne over the boundary at long-off, but also appeared comfortable in defence. He and Bailey added 167 for the fourth wicket after Cameron White had given Victoria the momentum with two wickets in the last over before lunch.
Bailey looked almost Daryll Cullinan-like against Warne early in his innings as Victoria crowded him with two slips, a silly mid-on and a silly mid-off. Despite feeling forward from his crease and a string of play-and-misses, Bailey survived and gradually built the confidence to put away the loose balls, hitting 11 fours and pulling White for a six.
Warne's efforts to dismiss his Test captain failed but the small crowd made the most of their chance to see two of the all-time greats go head-to-head. Ponting (51) watchfully faced 23 balls from Warne and hit him for three fours through cover and mid-off, but then played on to a straight ball from White. Despite getting out when he was settled, Ponting was happy with his innings.
"I would have liked a bit longer but I felt really good today," he said. "I felt I hit everything pretty much in the middle. It's been a nice transition to get into some four-day cricket and not feel you have to go out there and get things moving right from the start."
Warne extracted significant turn from the pitch and worked desperately hard without luck. A number of beaten edges and shots falling just wide of catching men left him with 0 for 113, figures that disguised how much he troubled the batsmen.
With Victoria's attack one man down - Mick Lewis is expected to miss nearly two weeks after tearing a muscle in his hip on day two - and McDonald struggling to find the right length it was Moss who stepped up to break partnerships when required, finishing with 4 for 58. Moss had the in-form Tim Paine caught behind for 18, before returning later in the day to bowl Di Venuto, have Bailey caught at mid-on from a mistimed pull shot and trap Sean Clingeleffer lbw for 38.
But Victoria did themselves no favours in the final session. Brad Hodge dropped an easy catch at deep square-leg when Dan Marsh (38 not out) had yet to score and Adam Crosthwaite put down a tough, diving chance with Clingeleffer also on 0. With Tasmania set to bat on and try to pass Victoria's first-innings score, an outright win for either team now looks unlikely.